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Detroit CVB’s Rose Awards Celebrate Hospitality Industry’s Service Excellence

By Ron Garbinski

The hospitality community enjoyed the spotlight recently as more than 500 guests turned out to honor members of it for their excellence in customer service.
The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB) presented its annual Recognition of Service Excellence (ROSE) Awards at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn. 
“Metro Detroit is fortunate to have such a strong hospitality community that attracts 19 million visitors to the region each year,” says Larry Alexander, DMCVB president & CEO. “The ROSE Awards is our opportunity to honor those individuals who don’t often get the recognition they deserve.”
Clients, guests, supervisors and the general public submitted ROSE Award nominations. One winner in each of the six categories was chosen. Additionally, one overall service champion, selected by a panel of expert hospitality professionals, was also recognized.
The Townsend Hotel also won the William F. McLaughlin Hospitality Award for Service Excellence, the only award in the state that honors customer service excellence in businesses. The award was named for a former long-serving DMCVB president and CEO from the 1980s. 
Here are highlights from each winner’s nomination:
Overall Service Champion 
Connie Godre of Livonia has been a master presenter at The Henry Ford since 1957. In those 60 years, her passion for her job has not waivered. Her knowledge and enthusiasm is infectious, making her beloved by both guests and coworkers.    
Godre knows guests by name and has developed a following from people who visit the museum. She provides the highest level of hospitality and exceeds expectations through learning and mastering her skills. Godre takes the initiative to engage with guests, making their experience her top priority. She has a way to weave stories about people and artifacts, making connections visitors might not have thought about.   
Godre received two complimentary tickets for the 2018 Infinity Ovation Yacht Summer Series, $1,000, four Detroit Tigers tickets and spending money for the game, two dozen red roses, a bottle of champagne and an announcement in Visit Detroit magazine and on 
Attractions and Casinos 
Brenda Austin of Detroit, a cleaning specialist for The Henry Ford, is always upbeat and cheerful with both coworkers and guests, even when dealing with the not so pleasant aspects of her job. Her good spirit and attention to detail does not go unnoticed.
Austin’s positive attitude is contagious. She goes out of the way to tell her coworkers good morning when they arrive and anticipates their needs even before they ask. She helps start their days on a high note causing them to be better partners and ambassadors to their clientele. 
Behind the Scenes 
Philip Abraira of Clarkston, a security officer at MotorCity Casino Hotel, genuinely cares about his guests and shows kindness and compassion in all situations. For example, when a hotel guest was unresponsive, Abraira stepped in and tirelessly performed CPR until the ambulance arrived and continued emergency efforts as the ambulance drove them to the hospital. Sadly, the guest passed away, but Abraira contacted the guest’s family and arranged a ride back to the hotel for the guest’s wife. He also arranged a different hotel room for the woman and, stayed with her even after his shift was over to make sure everything was taken care of for her.   
Abraira also shows kindness to fellow officers by looking out for less experienced medics and making sure they have the tools they need to succeed. 
Erik Taylor of St. Clair Shores, a front desk clerk at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, started at the hotel as a laundry attendant and worked his way up to the hotel front desk. He has made it his personal goal to increase morale among his coworkers – they look to him for guidance and leadership. He even worked with his managers to create an incentive program for staff.  
Taylor never lets a guest request go unresolved and always follows through. He finds a positive spin on everything and keeps his composure even when dealing with unpleasant hotel guests. 
Syed Ali of Warren, a bartender at Volt at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, passed the first level of Marriott’s Bourbon training program. (More people on a national level failed the program than passed.) He’s been a driving force on one of the hotel’s critical action teams to make sure customers have what they want, when they want it.   
Repeat customers provide positive feedback about Ali and say that he’s one of the reasons they return to the restaurant. He also developed a mango margarita that is on the specialty drink menu and is consistently a top seller. 
John Johnson of Saline, a customer service agent for Delta Air Lines, is a true brand ambassador who is admired by his superiors and peers because of his positive attitude, professionalism, loyalty and good character. 
Johnson also regularly volunteers for several charitable organizations and events, including the Skyline Café at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Save-a-Heart. His genuine compassionate nature makes him a valued member of the community.  
Karen Andrusiak of Brownstown, Airport Ambassador volunteer for the Wayne County Airport Authority, is a positive ambassador for the city of Detroit and is always willing to help. She is knowledgeable on what is happening in the region and became a Certified Tourism Ambassador for Ann Arbor so she can better answer visitor questions. Andrusiak is also a volunteer for The Parade Co., Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, Detroit Sports Commission and River Days. 
Andrusiak always puts the customer first, from sitting with a teenage passenger flying alone until takeoff and reassuring her mother that she was ok, to letting customers use her phone to contact their ride and helping a distraught customer en-route to a family funeral. 
All the winners, except Godre, received a $100 Visa gift card, dinner for two at the London Chop House, two Detroit Tigers game tickets, one dozen red roses, a bottle of champagne and an announcement in Visit Detroit magazine and on